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Plugging In: An Inside Look at the MEB — VW’s Platform for an Electrified Future

A combined VW-Ford battery-car program seems to have come un-plugged, however.

by on Feb.11, 2019

An under-the-skin look at VW's modular MEB battery-car platform reveals the skateboard-like layout.

Volkswagen is plugging into battery power in a big way, the German automaker planning to launch 50 or more all-electric models by 2025, an aggressive push that will have it betting heavily on a single new platform it is developing. Dubbed the MEB, this flexible, modular “architecture” will be used to underpin the vast majority of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that will be offered by VW’s dozen different passenger car brands.

The MEB has been a topic of discussion between VW and Ford Motor Co., the two companies recently launching a joint venture to develop light commercial vehicles. They also are exploring ways they may be able to work together on the development of electric vehicles, possibly using the new VW platform — though a senior Ford official cautioned that this might prove more difficult than originally hoped.

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“The future, for us, is really a dedicated EV platform,” said Matthew Renna, vice president of e-Mobility for Volkswagen’s North American Region, a platform “flexible enough to cover a broad gamut of products ranging from an entry level subcompact up to models like the ID. Buzz minivan and even midsize SUVs.

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Tesla Out of Cheaper Model 3s, Stakeholder Cuts Share in Half

T. Rowe Price halves stake from 10.12% to 5.2%.

by on Feb.11, 2019

The mad rush to blow out Model 3s at the end of the year has left Tesla with very few Model 3s to deliver.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said that the company would face some stiff headwinds in the early part of this year, and now some of those issues are now coming to light … as are the consequences.

The company’s last recent round of layoffs were unexpected, but were initially seen positively as analysts suggested the company would need to find ways to cut costs. However, according to Reuters, one of the teams that were cut significantly should have raised alarm bells sooner.

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Reuters reports that Tesla’s delivery team saw 150 of 230 employees lose their jobs. The Las Vegas-based group was largely responsible for delivering the company’s savior vehicle: the Model 3.  (more…)

Want a 205 mph BMW 7-Series? Here Comes the New Alpina B7

What else could you want for $141,700?

by on Feb.11, 2019

Alpina is going where the folks at BMW fear to tread by producing its own version of the M7 named the B7.

There’s long been a yawning gap in the BMW line-up. While virtually everything the automaker now offers is available with an “M” option, the Bavarians have resolutely refused to offer an M7 model. But that’s where Alpina, a German tuner with a long relationship with BMW comes in.

And it’s about to launch its own take on a performance version with the debut of the latest-generation Alpina B7. The sixth-generation sedan – and the third generation of Alpina B7s to make it to the U.S. – starts out from where the newly updated 2020 BMW 7 Series leaves off.

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If anything, the 2020 Alpina B7 adds even more luxurious details to the latest BMW 7, while also boosting performance significantly, the full-size sedan now able to hit 60 in a mere 3.5 seconds before racing to a top speed of 205 mph – 12 mph faster than the prior-generation B7. (more…)

Alfa Romeo Bringing Back 4C Spider for 2020

It will enjoy a limited run of just 15 cars.

by on Feb.11, 2019

The 2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia will be a limited-edition vehicle this year with just 15 units.

Despite rumors floating around of its imminent demise, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider will stay around for the 2020 model year, officials from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have confirmed.

Alfa Romeo unveiled the limited-edition 2020 4C Spider Italia for North America with its limited production run of only 15 vehicles, during the press preview at the Chicago Auto Show. In keeping with the special color and badges, each car will be numbered.

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Ben Lyon, FCA product expert, said the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia, which is hand-built in a factory in Italy, offers enthusiasts a chance to own a unique mid-engine design inspired by the brand’s legendary racing history and the essential sportiness embedded in the brand’s DNA.  (more…)

Mazda Marks Miata’s 30th With Party, Special Edition

Carrot-colored 30th Anniversary Edition will start at $35,915.

by on Feb.08, 2019

Mazda Motors North America President Masahiro Moro introduces the 30th anniversary limited-edition Mazda MX-5 Miata in Chicago.

February in Chicago isn’t normally what you’d call convertible season, but on a cold and blustery morning almost 30 years ago to the day, Mazda took ragtop fans and, indeed, the rest of the auto industry, by surprise with the debut of the original Miata roadster.

While never a major seller, the pint-sized two-seater also known as the MX-5 captured the hearts – and checkbooks – of those who wanted something that put the emphasis on pure driving fun, inspiring a wave of imitations from Mazda’s Japanese, German and U.S. rivals.

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On another cold and blustery day in the Windy City, Mazda pulled the wraps off a special, commemorative edition of the fourth-generation Miata Thursday. And to mark the occasion, it brought to its Chicago Auto Show news conference not only some of the roadster’s most loyal fans, but some of the folks who helped create the little car. (more…)

Nissan Updates Rogue Sport for 2020

More technology and a more technical design.

by on Feb.07, 2019

The 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport gets a mid-cycle refresh on the exterior and interior.

Nissan is giving its Rogue Sport a more technical feel with the 2020 mid-cycle update, with updates to the crossover’s exterior and interior, along with the addition of new Safety Shield technologies.

Now in its second generation, the Rogue is “a critical vehicle” in the expanding Nissan crossover/SUV line-up, says Scott Shirley, vice president of marketing operations for Nissan North America, so what might seem like a modest mid-cycle update takes on significance for the Japanese automaker.

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“We’re committed to keeping our crossover/SUV portfolio fresh,” Shirley said, during the lead-up to the unveiling of the 2020 Rogue Sport at this week’s Chicago Auto Show media preview.

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Ford Investing $1B, Adding 500 Jobs to Expand SUV Production

Announcement comes as GM hands out pink slips to 4,000.

by on Feb.07, 2019

Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of Global Operations, left, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel shake hands after announcing a $1 billion investment in the Chicago Assembly Plant.

This story has been updated with new information.

Ford Motor Co. will announce plans to invest $1 billion to expand its SUV operations in Chicago, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned, in the process hiring 500 workers.

The news comes the same week as General Motors has begun handing out pink slips to approximately 4,000 of its white-collar staff as part of what will be a $6 billion restructuring. Ford is also expected to announce cuts of its own as it moves forward with an $11 billion global restructuring, with details impacting U.S. operations scheduled to be announced by spring.

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The fact that Ford is hiring now, but that it could subsequently let other workers go, reflects the dramatic changes sweeping through the auto industry, especially in the U.S., where buyers by the millions have shifted from passenger cars to light trucks like those being built by the second-largest domestic automaker at its Windy City plant. (more…)

Volkswagen Ups the Ante with 2019 GLI Sedan

“The heart and soul of the GTI.”

by on Feb.07, 2019

The 2019 VW GLI blends the sportiest features of the Jetta and GTI models.

There are some things that Europeans and Americans just never can agree on, starting with hatchbacks and sedans. True, utility vehicles have come to dominate the U.S. marketplace, but sedans still make up a strong share of sales. Hatchbacks just can’t seem to climb out of the niche category.

So, for those who’d like the power and road-holding dynamics of a Volkswagen GTI, the GLI offers a viable, four-door alternative. And the German maker “ups the performance ante,” it promises, with the launch of the sixth-generation sedan that made its debut at the Chicago Auto Show.

Performance News!

“Volkswagen has long been synonymous with small, sporty cars,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “The redesigned 2019 Jetta proved once more that its combination of design, technology and value continues to resonate with buyers. The 2019 GLI takes the Jetta foundation and adds performance features from the Golf GTI to give buyers a true sport sedan.”

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Subaru Storms Chicago with All-New Legacy Line

Seventh-generation gets new platform, new performance model, more.

by on Feb.07, 2019

The 2020 Subaru Legacy gets a bolder look with a more coupe-like roofline.

These days, SUVs and CUVs are all the rage, and Japanese automaker Subaru gets a large share of the credit for shifting public interest dating back to the introduction of its original Outback model.

But Subie isn’t through with passenger cars. Quite the contrary. We’ve seen updates to several models in recent times and now it’s giving a complete makeover to its flagship sedan.

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The 2020 Subaru Legacy starts off with an all-new platform that, the maker claims is far stiffer and boasts a lower center of gravity. There is a new foam-filled cross-member and the Subaru Global Platform adopts a new method for joining upper and lower bodies. Those technical details are intended to make the seventh-generation Legacy more agile, stable and quiet.

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New 2020 Kia Sportage Blows into the Windy City

Compact crossover gets modest mid-cycle updates.

by on Feb.07, 2019

The 2020 Kia Sportage gets its first update since being launched for the 2016 model-year.

Bigger seems to be better these days, especially when it comes to trucks and utility vehicles. We’ve seen all manner of new full-size and heavy-duty pickups debut in recent months, along with large-larger-largest SUVs and CUVs.

That includes the all-new Kia Telluride. But what if someone doesn’t need a honking big, three-row ute? Kia has rolled one possible answer into this year’s Chicago Auto Show in the form of its updated 2020 Sportage model.

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Originally introduced way back in 1994, when it was produced in classic, body-on-frame form, the Sportage has gone through a number of updates over the years. It has morphed into a modern-looking, car-based crossover, the fourth-generation model launched for 2016. That means what we’re seeing in the Windy City is a mid-cycle update.

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